Josh Berry will start on the pole for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA), after setting a new Late Model Stock Car track record in qualifying with a time of 19.927 seconds.
Seven cars bettered last year’s pole time set by Stacy Puryear during the qualifying session. Layne Riggs claimed the outside pole, followed by Bobby McCarty, Peyton Sellers and Dustin Rumley.
Cooler temperatures and faster cars have produced quicker and more competitive qualifying sessions each year at Martinsville, particularly since the move to Friday night qualifying in 2017.
“I think definitely it’s been a lot faster since we started qualifying at night time,” said Berry. “I guess, at the same time, we’re constantly making our cars better, so we have some fast laps.
Layne Riggs, the outside pole-sitter, echoed that sentiment after posting a 19.959-second lap time.
“I think next year we’ll break the track record again. The track temperatures help, and everyone is on top of their game.”
Bobby McCarty will start third, clocking in at 20.011.
Any time the temperatures drop, it’ll bring the speeds with it. It was cool to let them tape up this year, and with the temperatures it set up for some really fast times.”
Surprisingly, despite being two of the most successful Late Model Stock racers over the past two years, Berry and McCarty have both struggled to finish well at Martinsville. Berry’s best career finish in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 is 13thin 2014 and 2015, while McCarty’s best showing was a 24thin 2016.
For both of those drivers, getting the Martinsville monkey off their back would be monumental.
“It would definitely be huge for me,” said Berry. “My struggles here over the years have been well-documented, but we took a huge step forward here last year. It didn’t work out, but we learned a lot.
“Really, I’ve said it numerous times, I feel like Martinsville is really the last big race I need to check off for Dale and JRM. This race is a big deal. We’ve put in a big effort and brought Bubba along with this deal.”
“With Nelson Motorsports, we’ve won quite a few things over the last couple of years,” said McCarty. “This is something you want to win before you hang your suit up. I feel like we’ve got three pretty good cars. To check this one off is one you want to do before you hang your suit up.”
While Layne Riggs is making just his second Martinsville start, he contended for the win last year before a late-race incident relegated him to 25th. The Bahama, North Carolina driver is equally motivated to win the signature grandfather clock trophy.
“This race would mean everything for me. I’m not really a veteran but I’ve been around a couple of years. This is my second-ever race at Martinsville Speedway. We had a pretty good piece last year and I feel the same this year. You can’t say I’m the winningest driver there is, so something like this would make it all worth it.”
Full qualifying results from Friday’s session are below.
Speed51 will provide Trackside Now coverage of Saturday’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300, starting at 12 p.m. Eastern. Fans can catch up on Friday’s practice and qualifying session by viewing those Trackside Now updates by clicking here.
Fans can also check out several videos from Speed51 recapping Friday, free of charge this weekend courtesy of MPM Marketing.
ValleyStar Credit Union 300 Qualifying Results
|17||5C||Dexter Canipe, Jr.||20.163|
|20||40||C.E. Falk III||20.188|